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Standards:  Key Terms Defined

 

 

Content Standards:
Define WHAT students should know, be able to do, understand, and care about. Content standards define the knowledge students should possess. They provide details for the more general, abstract goals of education by specifying what thinking and performance capabilities students should master. They are also sometimes called curriculum frameworks, learning standards, learning expectations, outcomes, and a host of other names. Standards outline the content and skills students should cover, either at grade level or by graduation. They do not dictate how students should be taught.  The table below illustrates the difference between well-defined and inadequate examples of content standards:

 

Well-defined examples
of content standards

Inadequate examples
of content standards
(goals, vague statements, curriculum and other statements that are not good standards)

Apply mathematical skills and processes to other disciplines and to everyday situations.

Use and value the connections between mathematics and other disciplines.

Students will read and respond to a wide variety of significant works of children’s literature. They distinguish between the structural features of text and the literary terms or elements (i.e., theme, plot, setting, and characters.)

Students will read for pleasure.

Students will understand domestic policies after World War II, including the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.

Demonstrate a global consciousness concerning the issues of civil rights and human dignity.

Students will be aware of the diversity of living organisms and how they can be compared scientifically.

Students will use a microscope and pond water to locate and sketch microscopic organisms.

 

Learning Benchmarks:
Points of reference used to gauge the progress of students toward meeting content standards, usually provided in terms of a grade level.  Learning benchmarks give an idea of what students are expected to learn by a certain point in their schooling, without being so specific that they ignore variations in individual student progress or in the scope and sequence of curricular offerings.

 

 

What are Standards?

Standards are statements about learning expectations for students.  There are two major kinds of standards:

  • Content Standards – what students are expected to know, be able to do, understand and care about.
  • Performance Standards – specify "how good is good enough"; relate to the issues of assessment that gauge the degree to which content standards have been attained.

 

An additional type of standard is the Lifelong-Learning Standard, which is a summary description of what students should know/be able to do across a variety of disciplines (e.g., decision-making techniques, time management, study skills).  In addition to discipline-specific knowledge and skills, some skills are not strictly content related, but are found in all aspects of the curriculum.

 

 

Why Standards?

  1. Standards set clear, high expectations for student achievement.
  2. Standards provide a basis for teacher and student accountability.
  3. Standards promote educational equity because they are intended for all students.
  4. Standards help guide efforts to measure student achievement, improve teacher training, develop more effective curricula and instructional strategies, and allocate resources more efficiently.

 

Performance Standards:

Specify “how good is good enough.”  Performance Standards relate to issues of assessment that gauge the degree to which content standards have been attained.  A performance standard describes the level of student performance in respect to the knowledge or skill described in a single benchmark or a set of closely related benchmarks.  Performance standards sometimes identify more than one level of achievement for a benchmark and label each level accordingly (for example, basic, proficient, advanced).

 

Subject: English/Language Arts
Grade: 2
Content Standard:  Students read to comprehend, interpret, and evaluate informational texts for specific purposes.

EXCEEDS
STANDARD

Š     Strategically use parts of books to locate information across texts.

Š     Identify and explain cause and effect relationships and the main idea of a passage.

Š     Formulate and modify complex questions to gain understanding of important information in a text.

Š     Consistently demonstrate an understanding of simple directions to perform a task.

MEETS
STANDARD

Š     Use the parts of a book to locate information, including table of contents, chapter headings, diagrams, charts, and graphs.

Š     Identify cause and effect relationships and the main idea of a passage.

Š     Formulate questions to gain understanding of important information in a text.

Š     Read and follow simple directions to perform a task.

APPROACHES
STANDARD

Š     Use some parts of a book to locate information.

Š     Identify obvious cause and effect relationships and the main idea of a passage.

Š     Lack necessary detail in formulating questions to gain understanding of important information in a text.

Š     Read and inconsistently follows simple directions to perform a task.

BELOW
STANDARD

Š     Use parts of a book inconsistently, or not at all, to locate information.

Š     Attempt to identify cause and effect relationships and the main idea of a passage with little or no accuracy.

Š     Ask inappropriate or undeveloped questions to gain understanding of important information in a text.

Š     Cannot understand simple directions to perform a task.

 

 

 

Important Points to Remember About Standards

  • Shared expectations for learning, through standards, can make students’ education more coherent by coordinating teaching, learning, and testing.
  • Content standards should be clear and usable.  They should guide—not constrict—teaching and learning.
  • Content standards do not determine the curriculum, nor do they represent a fixed unit of class time.  How and when a class operates are not as important as whether students are reaching the standards.  What is important is that all children reach high levels of learning.
  • Not all students will reach benchmarks at the same time.  Some students may need more assistance.
  • Standards provide many ways for students to show their abilities.  Beyond written exams, students will build portfolios and undertake projects to show their progress toward meeting standards.

 



Page maintained by Aaron Mersberg.